The European Wilderness Society is about to publish a photo-documentary of the increased logging activities in Romania showing the continuing logging of old growth forest which not too long ago extended from northern Romania to western Ukraine. These old growth forest are often at the core of Wilderness areas so important to the European Ecosystems and Biodiversity.
Published on September 20th, 2016 the documentary Clear Cut Crimes, a work by journalists from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and RISE Project supports the claim of illegal logging activities.
The major Austrian timber firm Holzindustrie Schweighofer is positioned in the documentary as a main beneficiary, having built sawmills with a wood-processing capacity in Romania that exceeds that country’s legal wood-harvesting quota.
According to the documentary, Holzindustrie Schweighofer feeds off a destructive system devised by criminal groups involved in illegal logging. These groups work in collaboration with corrupt politicians who assist the thugs in expanding their unlawful logging businesses. They use poor citizents as fronts for their companies and will run a bulldozer over anyone or anything standing in their way. In the meantime, law enforcement sits on the sidelines as the violence unfolds.
In Ukraine, the network that supplies Schweighofer sends timber harvested in the war-torn country to its Romanian processing plants. The network is opposed in Ukraine by paramilitaries who fight against Russia’s expansion. The so-called Cossack Battalion blocks logging trucks on the roads, halts trains loaded with illegal wood and sets up ambushes in the forest. But it hasn’t been enough. The logging cartel is strong and supported by corrupt officials in Kyiv.
Watch this documentary to get a better understanding of the dynamics of the logging industry in Romania and Ukraine. Holzindustrie Schweighofer denies these and other charges.
We thank the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and RISE Project for their work.